Orton has thrown only one interception since the third quarter of Game 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals and that one interception was a bomb that served the same purpose as a punt against the Minnesota Vikings in the Bears' fifth game.
Orton and his receivers were especially adept at digging the Bears out of deep holes. He hit Mark Bradley for a key 54-yarder in the first half with the Bears' backed up to their 1, then hit a 22-yarder to Justin Gage with the Bears backed up to their 1 in the fourth quarter, needing a first down to avoid giving up good field position to Detroit for a game-winning field goal attempt.
"Those are just demoralizing for a defense and they really give us a lot of confidence,'' said Orton.
Gage, Bradley and Muhsin Muhammad all had catches beyond 20 yards and an offense averaging 4.8 yards a pass attempt had a season's best 6.6 yards per pass attempt.''
"We came in seeing if we could run the ball and they stuffed it up pretty good,'' said Orton. The Bears gained 115 yards on 29 carries, but struggled in the first half to 47 rushing yards.
"But it gave us a lot of room in the passing game to throw the ball. I threw the ball and we went out and had some big pays.''
Orton didn't come away totally pleased.
"We left a lot of yards out on the field, to be honest with you, passing the ball,'' he said.
In particular, he overthrew Muhammad twice very badly, including one in overtime near the Lions' 30 that would have put the Bears in field goal range.
He nearly overthrew Muhammad on the Bears' second-quarter go-ahead touchdown, a 23-yarder. But Muhammad leaped high for the ball and then took a big hit.
"He's trying to do the best he can,'' Muhammad said. "I guarantee you he doesn't want to throw those high balls. He's a young kid and he'd love nothing more than to go out and throw for 300 yards I guarantee you that.''
Orton said it's a matter of Muhammad adjusting a route to beat the way he's played by a defender, and his own inability yet to know what his receiver will do.
"At some point, he has to change up his route,'' Orton said. "It's going to be fun. I'm at the point where I'm starting to see that and when we start to hit those we can expect big things.''
Receivers are feeling the same thing.
"He's trusting his receivers and trusting himself and his protection,'' Gage said. "He's got some games of experience under his belt. He's the kind of guy that, game by game, he learns more and he doesn't make the same mistakes twice.''